For the past decade, life at home has been invaded by a multitude of devices and digital accessories. As smart phones and other devices provided constant access to the internet, we have all gradually found ourselves walking a thin line between the digital world and reality. Then the pandemic struck and those who could work at home were told to stay at home. The various devices in our homes were no longer for entertainment, schools, jobs, etc., all communication was conducted over the internet, through these devices. People who usually worked in offices were forced to come up with ways to work online. They struggled with privacy, productivity, and communication.
A search for privacy
It is not surprising that there was a rise in the sale of headphones, earphones, and other listening devices. People needed to create some sense of privacy in their homes to be able to do their jobs efficiently. Granted, it didn’t always work. Dozens of videos online show children walking into the background of Zoom meetings, or interrupting Skype interviews on national news channels. Focusing on work (even with noise-cancelling headphones), can be difficult if you are continuously interrupted or if you do not “feel” productive. Procrastination, frustration, and unproductive work hours led people to search for a better solution for remote work.
Many opted to turn their bedrooms into a small office, using one corner of the room if possible. This is not a viable option for many. Some people might find that their proximity to the bedroom or living room is counterproductive, and they might need more than a makeshift desk next to their bedside table. Working from rooms designed for other purposes, such as a kitchen, living room, or bedroom, can often lead to distractions and procrastination. Also, because these rooms were not designed with a desk job in mind, many people do not feel comfortable working in them.
Those who could afford it renovated their guest bedrooms into offices. Others used their existing offices, but renovated them to include more functional features. Renovation costs are high, but many argue that working from home saves on a variety of expenses, and the cost of renovation can be quickly cancelled out.
What about people with smaller homes?
Setting aside the cost of renovation, many people simply could not find a spare room in their homes to turn into an office. That’s why homeowners all over the world have turned to their gardens in search of a quiet place to work.
Garden room offices are not a new trend at all. In fact, they have been built in gardens for decades now. However, the pandemic gave them a boost in popularity. They are defined as small buildings in the garden, separate from the main structure of a house, that are used as office space. They can be of many different sizes, but generally are similar to the size of a garden shed.
Many garden room offices make use of floor to ceiling windows to give the office views of the garden whilst still having the option for privacy. They are not necessarily a single room and often include extra facilities such as a toilet, kitchenette, or even a shower. In some cases, they can be similar to a guesthouse in construction, except that they do not have a bedroom.
Benefits of having a Garden Room Office
There are several compelling reasons to get a garden room office, all related to the advantages of having one. These are just a few of the benefits of having an office in your garden.
As previously mentioned, these garden room offices offer complete privacy within the confines of your property. You can expect that there will be no background noise from playing children. As privacy is extremely important in an office situation, where meetings might even require confidentiality, this is one of the most important benefits of having a garden room office. Additionally, working out of a garden room office offers more privacy than working from a cubicle or a shared working space. You can focus on your work without the constant interference from colleagues in the next cubicle.
- Increased family time
Since a garden room office is so close to home, people can expect to spend more time with their families, which is beneficial to mental health. Many report being able to change their work schedules to have family meals together, accommodating their children’s daily schedules. Having a garden room office means being home within a minute from finishing your work, instead of hours wasted weekly on commuting.
- Home cooked meals
Being (almost) at home means that more people are using their time to make home-cooked meals. Even if they are busy all day, a pot on the hob that does not need constant supervision is not difficult to do if they are just a step away.
- No commute
Before the pandemic adults often spent a substantial amount of time commuting to and from their place of work; this time was increased if they lived in a suburban area. Spending all that time in traffic jams is a great source of stress and an unproductive, unhealthy use of time. Working in a garden room office immediately removes all the negative effects of commuting, giving people time to spend on other more important tasks.
- Convenience and flexibility
The flexibility of working from home often means that the hours are not dictated by a 9 to 5 schedule, but can be more fluid. Unless you are on a scheduled meeting or a deadline, you have complete control of your schedule, which can be extremely convenient.
- Made to your liking
Most companies do not have the budget or inclination to provide a separate office for every member of staff, this usually means many people are using shared desks or even cubicles. Garden room offices are renovated and designed to the specifications and designs that are preferred by the person using them, not by the company they work for. Naturally, this means that not only can you personalise and decorate a garden room office in a way that is most comfortable and suitable for you, you can also focus upon the functionality of your garden room office, to make working less of an ordeal.
- Lower carbon footprint
Commuting is one of the worst ways in which people add to their daily carbon emissions. Those who are environmentally conscious will be pleased to know that using a garden room office can significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
- Property value
There are several ways to add to the property value of your home, having a garden room office is one of the more useful ways in which people can do so. The garden room office might not see much foot traffic; so don’t expect it to continue requiring renovation either. Additionally, as they don’t have to be very expensive, the added property value can make the renovation very cost effective.
- Skip the politics and gossip
Offices are good for teamwork and collaborative efforts between workers. On the other hand, there is often so much gossip between office workers, which can lead to competitive office politics. Working from a garden room office eliminates this problem completely by keeping the relationship with office workers strictly professional.
- Productivity and work-life balance
Remote workers often face difficulties staying focused upon their work. Because they are at home, they do not feel the pressure of being at work and can tend to procrastinate. Garden room offices are a way to benefit from the advantages of remote working but with a great way to stay productive by still keeping a division between the home and the office.
There are, of course, remote workers who find that they are working longer days at home. They are often working all day, never stopping to spend time with their families. Again, the separate nature of a garden room office allows for them to keep the work away from their homes, yet still at a convenient location. In general, working from a garden room office helps people achieve a healthy balance between their professional obligations and family/life obligations.
There are many expenses that office workers incur that can be omitted by working from home. These can include but are not limited to, commute expenses, coffee (retail prices of coffee are many times higher than homemade), food, office attire, and many more. By working out of a garden room office, people are saving much of the money they would have otherwise spent on these things.
Effects of gardens on health
There are many benefits to being around green spaces. Having a garden room office means spending a significant amount of time in the garden, even if behind a window. Studies show that sitting in an area surrounded by a garden can relieve stress.
Cortisol levels are decreased in people who spend a significant part of their day in a garden or surrounded by green vegetation. This hormone is usually an indicator of stress, so its reduction is always a good sign. Besides the detrimental effects regarding stress and mental health, Cortisol can cause heart problems, weight fluctuations, and depression. As many garden room offices are positioned to keep the garden in view, they can be said to have a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of people who use them.
Desk jobs are, by nature, sedentary jobs. People who work at desk jobs often gain weight due to this type of lifestyle, and many have proposed ways to combat the sedentary nature of these jobs. In a typical office setting, the only options for exercise are limited to taking the stairs, standing desks, and in-office workout routines/machines. Each of these is often inconvenient as well as ineffective. Being in a garden room office means people have more time to go to the gym or work out at home. Also, because it is within the confines of their homes, people are encouraged to do a home work out before or after work hours – without worrying about the time.
Types of Garden Room Offices
Now that you have discovered the many benefits of having a garden room office; you are probably wondering how to get one. There are two main types to choose from Bespoke or Modular Garden Room Offices. These are their different features, pros, and cons.
- Bespoke Garden Room Offices
These made-to-order offices require you to collaborate with a construction company, and an architect to design and build an office according to the specifications you give them. The building must be constructed completely on site, which may be a nuisance (to you or your neighbours) and construction takes a longer time to be completed. Additionally, because the variations are endless, you will need to consult with a variety of professionals on the details of the addition to your home.
However, getting this type of garden room office ensures you are not compromising in any way – they are made keeping in mind your budget, specifications, restrictions, and existing building. If you have a smaller garden or a non standard plot of land, an architectural solution may be designed specifically for you. Construction companies can also accommodate special orders and features that you ask for, that are not usually included in a modular garden room office. They may be cheaper or more expensive depending on the project, but do not forget that the final costs can be unpredictable.
- Modular Garden Room Offices
Like modular houses, these are buildings that come in pre packaged kits and can be brought together and erected on site. Depending on the size and complexity, you may or may not need the help of a construction company. Companies that provide this type of garden office usually offer a range of different options to allow their customers to customise according to their preferences. However, the options are still limited when compared to bespoke garden room offices. The main advantage of this type of building is that the cost is clearly stated upfront, and they can be erected in a shorter time period.
Although there are no unforeseen costs in this type, customers need to be careful when choosing between the various options. There is no standard definition of what a quoted price includes, so different companies can include or exclude various details. Ask ahead to know exactly what you are paying for and plan for the things excluded in the quoted price. For example, some companies might not include insulation or heating in the quoted price, so you will need to either choose a different option or make plans to get those features in some other way.
Modular garden room offices are easier to build if you’re in a hurry, especially because you do not need to consult with various professionals before construction, such as architects, electricians, and other construction professionals. Usually, all you need to do is visit a company that provides these services, choose your preferred option, negotiate a price, and set a date for delivery. It really is that simple, the only thing left to do is to furnish and decorate to your style and needs.
Tips for your Garden Room Office
Always check if you need planning permission before you order a garden room office. Generally, it is not a requirement because garden room offices come under the rules of permitted developments. However, if you intend to run a business from your garden room office, it is likely that you will need to apply for planning permission. It would also be a matter of courtesy to notify your neighbours, particularly if there will be customers visiting on a regular basis as this may cause issues with access or parking. The specific rules and regulations regarding planning can differ depending upon where you live so we recommend that you always contact your local authority for advice.
If possible you should have water and electricity services installed in your building; after all it should be functional and comfortable. Careful consideration will be needed regarding adding a toilet or kitchen as this may affect whether you require planning permission, but keep in mind that they might also add to the construction costs significantly.
Some of the cheaper garden room offices do not include insulation in their construction plans; this is something to be aware of as insulation is very important to keep heating/cooling costs down. Soundproofing is an option to be considered if you live in a built up area, or if you will be conducting confidential meetings that require maximum privacy.
Floor to ceiling windows and bi folding doors will maximise the benefit of being in your garden. If privacy is a concern, use blinds, privacy glass (a type of smart glass that can be switched from opaque to transparent and vice versa), or even curtains.
When shopping for office furniture, try to maximise your space, as it will be limited. Also, think of the ways you can make more functional use of the limited space, and ways to make your workspace more productive and comfortable at the same time. This is an office tailored according to your needs, so customise it as much as your budget will allow, decorate it in a way that will give you a sense of calm, and help yourself stay comfortable with a better desk chair.
Garden room offices are rising in popularity due to the increasing trend of people working remotely from their homes. They have a huge benefit to the health, productivity, and budgets of the people who use them. Customisable to suit the needs of their customers, they come in a variety of styles and sizes.
Special thanks Francois Edy for providing the image